• December 6, 2021

Changing from hyphens to long hyphens in footnotes, in bulk – Reason.com

The law review style is to write ranges of numbers using long dashes (-) instead of dashes (-). I’d rather that wasn’t the norm, but it is; And for the Journal of Free Speech Law, we decided to stick with it. But many documents we receive have hyphens; How can we easily change them to short dashes?

You can’t do it automatically in Microsoft Word, because some hyphens must be kept as hyphens, for example a legal section might be § 12-34 (although the page range would be 12-34). But you can get closer, using the wildcard feature in Word:

Then click Find Next, see if it looks like a page range, click Replace if it is and Find Next again if it isn’t, and continue until everything is the way you like it.

How does this work?

  1. Checking “Use wildcards” changes it to wildcard mode.
  2. ([0-9)-([0-9)] in the “Find what” box you are looking for a digit followed by a dash followed by a digit. The [0-9] indicates a digit, since it is anything from 0 to 9; and the parentheses in the brackets indicate that the element before the hyphen should be treated as (I’ll call it) “thing 1” and the element after the hyphen should be treated as “thing 2”.
  3. 1– 2 in the “Replace with” box means “replace what you find, if instructed to replace it, with thing 1, followed by a dash and followed by thing 2”.

So when you have “84-85” in your document, it will find the “4-8” (just look for a digit before the hyphen and then a digit after that), and then if you click “Replace”, replace “4-8” for “4-8”, leaving it like that with “84-85”. Technology!

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